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When will the Israeli Left accept the occupation started in '48, not '67?

Only when the Israeli Left accepts that the occupation began in 1948 — and remains an open wound for Palestinians — can Arabs and Jews truly refuse to be enemies.

One of the negative characteristics of the Israeli “Left” is how it terms the military rule over the West Bank and Gaza “The Occupation.” Part of the Left even accuses Palestinians who claim there is no difference between Petah Tikva and Ariel of being like the Right, because “that’s what the Israeli Right claims.” For most Palestinians, however, this exaggerated and Orwellian talk of “The Occupation” blurs Israel’s real shame, and the skeleton buried deep in the closet: The brutal and criminal occupation of 1948.

Ethnic cleansing and massive land expropriation, and then settlement of that land, are the mother of all disgraces — even if Israelis refuse to recognize it as such in public, and even if they try very hard to ignore what most Arabs are saying. Israelis’ designation of the ’67 occupation as “The Occupation” is intended, among other things, to either obscure or prevent any engagement with the Nakba. As such, most of Israel’s pseudo-Left is actually composed of Nakba deniers.

One of the most worn-out claims used to avoid referring to the crimes of ’48 as an “occupation” is that the Nakba, or the “War of Independence” to use the laundered Zionist expression, was necessary for the national project of establishing a state for the Jewish people following World War II.

Another claim, put forward mostly by the Israeli Right, is that Palestinians refused the 1947 UN Partition Plan. This claim has always seemed to me to be void of any foundation or basic logic, and is therefore not worth addressing. Let’s see those who wave this claim around agree to distribute their homes and land to people who have arrived from overseas to dispossess them, and then we can talk about it.

A national project?

The argument that it was necessary to establish a state at the expense of the native population, while justifying it because of the persecution experienced by the occupiers, is pathetic at best. Many good people have already spoken about Zionism’s cynical exploitation of the memory of victims of the Holocaust. But to the ears of Palestinians, these self-justifications along with exaggerated talk of the “The Occupation,” as if there was no other disaster and open wound, sounds more than just...

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The Palestinian guide to dealing with racist compliments from Israelis

Intentions be damned, when many Jewish Israelis meet Palestinians even their compliments come out laced with passive-aggressive racism half the time. A comprehensive guide for Palestinians.

There isn’t a single Palestinian citizen of Israel who isn’t familiar with the phenomenon. It can happen in the middle of a conversation, during a cigarette break at work, or in pretty much any interaction in a public place — with a complete stranger: Israelis who feel a little too comfortable giving racist “compliments” to Palestinians.

As a Palestinian who grew up with and has been friends with Israelis his whole life, I learned a long time ago to ignore all those with enough chutzpa and tactlessness to publicly and directly spout passive-aggressive racism. But many Palestinians, the masochists among us who haven’t yet adopted a “fuck it” approach to the day-to-day of living in the Jewish state, still try and respond to the douche-of-the-hour who is emboldened enough to express his or her ignorance or racism politely, with a smile.

So I brought together a group of Palestinian friends and we came up with some recommendations for dealing with the not-all-that-creative, often banal racism you’ll find being spewed by Jewish Israelis.

‘Wow, you don’t look like an Arab’

An all-time classic, and number one on the list of racist compliments. Nobody knows where it originated, but this one managed to embed itself in the minds of so many Jewish Israelis who seem to think that they have rays of sunshine splashing out of exactly where the sun don’t shine.

It’s particularly annoying because it is based on the appearance and/or behavior of an Arab, with unadulterated racism as its point of departure. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is or how clearly Arabic your name is. The moment someone realizes that you don’t speak or act the way The Only Democracy in the Middle East™ educated them to believe you should or would, chances are that the mother of all racist compliments will home in like a heat-seeking missile, with little tiny afterburners launching it out of the mouth of whoever suffers from any of the following three ailments: woeful and complete ignorance, an actual belief that his or her shit smells like roses, or a combination of the first two.

How to respond: The best way is to scornfully ignore it. If you feel like you need educate the...

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The cultural terrorism of Miri Regev

By threatening the livelihood of Palestinian theater workers, Regev is committing cultural terrorism: she is putting people’s livelihoods at risk — people whose only sin is holding different political principles.

In an interview Monday morning, Culture Minister Miri Regev revealed her true intentions to Army Radio host Razi Barkai: she wishes to shut down Haifa’s Al-Midan, the only Arabic theater in Israel that receives state funding, if it does not fall in line.

Here’s how we got here. The Ministry of Culture and Sport froze Al-Midan’s budget in mid-2015 after it had planned to run a performance of “A Parallel Time,” based on the life of Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner convicted of aiding the abduction and killing of Israeli soldier, Moshe Tamam. The ministry justified the freeze by arguing that the play was written by a “terrorist” who kidnapped and murdered a soldier.

The theater petitioned to Israel’s High Court of Justice, after which the attorney general pressured the ministry to leave the theater’s budget untouched. The two sides came to a compromise: Regev would not touch Al-Midan’s budgets for 2016 and 2017, meanwhile the theater would agree pull its petition.

The workers of Al-Midan are now going on strike, claiming that Regev has simply ceased transferring funds since March 2016, and that they are missing the NIS 2.2 million promised to them.

Regev chose World Theater Day to say that she “will not fund a theater that endorses terror,” all while she commits terrorism against cultural institutions and threatens to pass a “cultural loyalty” law in order to control artistic funding. Oh, the irony.

Let’s put things on the table: Daka, who was put on trial and convicted of his involvement in killing a soldier, is a political prisoner. He was not present during the killing, as was stated in the court’s ruling — the same court that sentenced him to life (President Shimon Peres later commuted his sentence to 35-37 years). Daka’s request for a second trial was rejected. Yes, the theater has the same role as all other forms of art: to publicly challenge and criticize the regime. And in this case, a Palestinian theater happens to be criticizing an occupying regime.

By not transferring the money to Al-Midan, Regev is simply withholding funds that legally belong to the Palestinian public in Israel — funds that the public has paid for with tax money.

The extremist policies put forth by Regev are no surprise. As Palestinians, it is clear...

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In Israel, even Palestinian journalists are guilty until proven innocent

The suspension of a Palestinian journalist by the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation is a reminder that even the most liberal media outlets still view Arabs with suspicion.

Samah Wattad, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and journalist who works for the newly-formed Israeli Broadcast Corporation (IBC), was suspended Thursday after she retweeted an article that expressed support for Basel al-Araj, a Palestinian activist who was killed by Israeli soldiers last week.

The decision to suspend Wattad came after Prime Minister Netanyahu used the occasion to write a Facebook status that accused the IBC of supporting terrorists. Wattad was forced to backtrack and apologize, claiming that she was misunderstood.

Let’s put aside the fact that Netanyahu and Abbas’ security coordination made it possible for Israeli soldiers to enter Ramallah kill al-Araj in the first place. Basel al-Araj was not a “terrorist,” as he was described by the Israeli media. In fact, among many Palestinians he was seen as a leader and an intellectual who supported armed resistance against occupying Israeli soldiers.

Instead, let’s look at a few important lessons we can glean from Wattad’s story, which should be a warning sign for every Palestinian and Jew in this country who believes in freedom of speech and equal opportunities.

The first conclusion we can draw is that Zionist media outlets in Israel can claim that they are liberal and against silencing Palestinians. But at the end of the day, a Palestinian journalist will always be guilty until proven innocent.

Creating the obedient Palestinian

Palestinians in Israel, especially those who work with Jews, have grown accustomed to apologizing. After every armed action against Israeli soldiers or civilians, there will always be a Zionist who demands an apology from the next Palestinian he sees. The Zionist need to abuse Arabs and emphasize the master’s rule over the slave is nothing new.

But what happens when a Palestinian, and in our case a Palestinian woman, dares to retweet something on her personal account, which “proves her guilt,” guilt that clearly stems from the fact that she is an Arab in Israel? She will immediately be burned at the stake, just as “witches” once were. Because what’s better than some racism mixed with old-school misogyny?

Wattad’s retweet presents al-Araj as a romantic revolutionary. But so what? After all, this is what a large part of Palestinians believe. Think about an Israeli journalist who praises an Israeli soldier. Would...

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Israelis post anti-Arab racism online every 46 seconds, study finds

A new study shows that Israeli Jews publushed 675,000 racist posts on social media in 2016 — a dangerous increase from 2015, when only 280,000 such posts were published.

7amleh statistics

Every 46 seconds an Israeli Jew publishes a racist or inciting comment against Arabs on Facebook and other social networks, a new study finds. According to the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (7amleh), which published its Index for Racism and Incitement on Social Media last week, 60,000 active Israeli social media users published at least one racist post against Arabs in 2016.

According to the study there were over 675,000 such posts in the previous year, published at a rate of one post every 46 seconds — a dangerous increase from 2015, when 280,000 racist and inciting posts were published.

7amleh’s study also focused on the correlation between remarks made by high-level government officials and the amount of inciting posts. One can see a clear increase in the number of racist posts against Arabs following every inciting remark by a member of the government.

The sharpest spikes in racist posts came following remarks by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Arab citizens, following the fires that raged across Israel and the West Bank in November 2016, which leaders blamed on nationalistically-motivated arson. Miri Regev’s comments against Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar and poet Mahmoud Darwish also led to a higher volume of incitement on the internet.

Another sharp increase was felt throughout the trial of Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who was found guilty of killing an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron early last year.

According to the study, the Israeli media serves as the main inspiration for racist posts against Arabs. Much of the hatred and incitement is directed at Palestinian politicians, who are frequently mentioned in both the media and who are incited against by Israeli politicians. MK Haneen Zoabi was the most frequent target of incitement and racism, with 60,000 posts directed at her. Ahmed Tibi was subjected to 40,000 posts, closely followed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with 30,000 and Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh with 25,000.

7amleh...

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Shin Bet detains Arab activists — to stop them from attending funeral

Three well-known Bedouin activists were detained and interrogated on the way to the funeral of Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an, who was killed by police last week. Attorney Gaby Lasky: ‘This has all the marks of a police state.’

Israeli police and the security authorities continue to persecute the Arab residents of the Negev. On Tuesday, the Shin Bet detained three well-known Palestinian activists from the area as they were making their way to the funeral of Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an, a resident of the Bedouin village Umm el-Hiran who was shot and killed by police last week.

The three were detained midday in Be’er Sheva while they were traveling by car. “We drove at 10:30 in one car on the main road in Be’er Sheva,” Amir Abu Qweidr told +972. “We reached the traffic light in front of Ben-Gurion University, and stopped at the red. We noticed that our friend was standing near the entrance to the university and was waving at us. All of a sudden, three civilian vehicles approached and surrounded us. A group of men with police hats stepped out of the cars and announced that we were detained for questioning.”

“They took two of us and put us in one of their cars. Our third friend was left in our car, where two police officers joined him. They led us to an abandoned parking lot, there they took us out of the vehicles, searched us, checked our ID cards, and told us once again that they were taking us in for questioning.”

Fady Masamra, 39, is the owner of the vehicle. “After we were detained in the lot, they put my friends in a different car, leaving me in my car. A police officer drove my car like a maniac. It’s an old car and I was seriously afraid that it would break down. I also noticed we were getting close to a police checkpoint (one of many the police erected to make it difficult for people to get to the funeral, r.y.). I explained that I was afraid they would shoot us, since a car hurtling toward a police checkpoint is dangerous. They ignored me completely.”

The three were taken to a nearby police station; they were not allowed to contact their family members or attorneys. Abu Qweidr was the first to be questioned, after undergoing an invasive body search. “They put us in a tin...

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WATCH: The Arab youth mainstreaming Palestinian identity in Israel

Today, many young Arab citizens of Israel are no longer afraid of being proud of their Palestinian identity. Yet there is a general sense that the establishment is trying to prevent them from defining their own identity. What happens when Arabs who take pride in their people want to ‘make it’ into the mainstream? The third and final part in a series on Palestinian identity in Israel. Watch parts one and two.

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Palestinians, it's time to take our fight into the global arena

The non-stop incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel from both the government and media prove the need for a new kind of resistance.

It’s time for a change of direction. If the Israeli radical left and the Palestinian leadership were strategically smarter about opposing the occupation, they would have made into an artform the incitement, slander and vilification that Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan has been orchestrating this past week against Palestinian citizens of Israel, the residents of the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran and a Bedouin man, Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an.

As a reminder, Erdan’s mini-campaign began on Wednesday, when Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by hundreds of police officers, arrived in Umm el-Hiran to carry out demolitions so the village can be replaced with a Jewish town.

Police opened fire on the car of Abu al-Qi’an as he was driving slowly into the village, after which his car struck an Israeli police officer, killing him. Abu al-Qi’an was left to bleed to death. Shortly after, police began using pepper spray and shot sponge-tipped bullets at protesters, injuring — among others — Joint List head Ayman Odeh.

Erdan immediately declared the incident involving Abu al-Qi’an a deliberate car-ramming attack, labeling him a terrorist despite no one yet knowing exactly what had happened (video footage and an autopsy report seem to confirm that Abu al-Qi’an was shot before he accelerated). He then called on Israel’s Attorney General to investigate a number of Palestinian Knesset members, among them Odeh, on grounds of incitement to violence and murder.

The attack on Palestinian citizens, led by Netanyahu and his guard dogs, is an opportunity for Palestinians to take off the gloves and do what should have been done in October 2000: formally approach the United Nations, with the support of what remains of the real Israeli left, and request international protection for Arabs.

All the signs point to the fact that the establishment’s attacks on the Arab public in the name of Zionism (Jewish racial supremacy) will not end with the demolition of houses in Qalansuwa and the beginnings of ethnic cleansing in Umm el-Hiran. Netanyahu announced a few weeks ago that a wave of demolitions was about to commence; his warning augurs another of the Zionist establishment’s many prolonged attacks on Palestinian citizens since the...

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WATCH: Why Arab youth increasingly identify as Palestinian

What makes young Arabs who live in Israel define themselves as Palestinians? How do Israel’s divide-and-conquer policies make it difficult for Palestinian citizens to formulate a unified identity? Part two of Rami Younis and Israel Social TV’s inside look at the changes taking place among Palestinians inside Israel. Watch part one here.

Read more:
WATCH: ‘Israeli Arab’ or Palestinian?
A new activism, a new politics, a new generation of Palestinians in Israel
From Haifa to Beirut: ’48 Palestinians challenge regional isolation




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WATCH: 'Israeli Arab' or Palestinian?

One in five Israeli citizens are Arab — Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin. A 2014 +972 Magazine poll found that the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel who identify as Palestinian has risen dramatically in recent years. Rami Younis and Israel Social TV explore the changing Palestinian identity politics inside Israel. Stay tuned for the next episodes of this series.

Read more:
A new activism, a new politics, a new generation of Palestinians in Israel
From Haifa to Beirut: ’48 Palestinians challenge regional isolation



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How the Israeli Right easily manipulates Palestinians and the Left

Distracted by the ‘fire intifada’ that wasn’t and the progress of the ‘muezzin law,’ the Israeli Left and several Palestinian Knesset members failed to call out the other injustices of the last few weeks. 

It’s easy to condemn the declarations that the recent wave of fires across Israel brought from Israel’s igniter — sorry, inciter-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu, its lacking-in-culture minister and its minister of uneducation, who all claimed that a “fire intifada” was afoot. And the Palestinians and the Israeli Left did indeed condemn them. We all condemned them. But what comes next?

To tell the truth, I avoided the local news throughout the week that the fires were burning here in Israel, in favor of international news. The wardens of the only democracy on the planet were appearing in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and I imagined that if I were to tune in to one of Israel’s propaganda channels, I would be faced with a grave and self-important presenter disseminating the lies being dished up by the top levels of the government/police/army.

Leave it, I told myself — I’m still trying to get over the sight of Arabs imitating the muezzin’s call on every website and in all corners of social media. It was a full week before I plucked up the courage to go near a news broadcast, and I was amazed to discover that the tales of the “fire intifada” I had heard from friends had all but vanished from the screen. I had somewhat hoped to get scientific explanations contradicting what I had seen in the Arabic and European press, about the climate change which had caused fires across the world. But that, too, was barely to be found.

Particularly sad, and serious, is that no Israeli media outlets — save for Local Call — provided their audience with a map showing the fires that were raging across the rest of the Middle East. Perhaps the Israeli media, enlisted to support the lies of the prime minister and his entourage, thinks that these fictional Arab terrorists simply said “screw everyone” and began setting fire to the entire Arab world. Okay, that last bit is partly true (see Assad, the Islamic State group, etc). But still. 

As usual, it’s not just the media that failed to address the issue. The Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens...

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Dear Israelis, how would you like your Palestinian?

When the Israeli establishment prevents Palestinians on either side of the Green Line from struggling nonviolently, what other options are left?

So what do all these Arabs do when they aren’t willing to bow before the establishment? The last few days have provided a slew or examples of the Zionist establishment’s attempts to mold the Palestinian who opposes the occupation as someone who is either handcuffed or shot.

Let’s begin with the lie that the media has been spreading over the past week. As my colleague Haggai Matar wrote in these pages, Israel’s “wave of violence” against the Palestinians never went away. A momentary calm in violent Palestinian resistance (a result of “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority against the Palestinian people) and its resurgence over the past few days helps create a false image of a “wave” that Israel can control. As if the army, the Shin Bet, and Mahmoud Abbas can put a stop to violent attacks.

Let us, then, try and understand why the “latest wave of violence” isn’t going to end anytime soon, despite the temporary letup, and why Israelis will continue to kill Palestinians, even when they haven’t done a thing.

Around this time last year Palestinians were talking about the desperate situation in the West Bank. Aside from those in the PA’s inner circle, the Palestinians there have no real future, and it doesn’t matter how much they study or work hard. And if that’s not enough, Abbas’ security coordination with Israel has long ago put an end to the illusion of institutional resistance to the occupation, as if there was any way to conduct a struggle through the Palestinian Authority. Central political activists in the West Bank see Abbas and Israel as part of the same system of oppression, a notion that has become mainstream among the vast majority of Palestinians. Therefore when there is no one who will put an end to this desperation, people take matters into their own hands.

In other words, Abbas, who strengthened cooperation with Israel over the past few months, is one of the main sources driving these young, suicidal Palestinians. But security coordination is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact that Abbas does’t lift a finger when Palestinians die leads many to view him, and justifiably so, as a collaborator. Attacks on Israel soldiers are in some way an attack on the...

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Palestinians have no role to play in Israel's film academy

Out of the 982 members of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, there is not a single Palestinian.

I leave my gear with the rest of the production team and go downstairs to take a walk around the village. At the village center I find a bit of shade overlooking the local pub. While sitting and rolling a cigarette, I notice a woman walking by with a garbage bag. “A local,” I think to myself, and decide to rid myself of the boredom that has come to be mixed with depression.

“Excuse me,” I turn to her as cool as I can. “Do you know where the mosque is?”

“What?” she answers in shock. I noticed her blue eyes still in shock when she started to shake her head for quite some time after I asked my question.

She keeps walking. I sit and look at her. She throws a garbage bag right next to the entrance of the pub, before walking inside to say hello to someone. I wondered to myself what bothered her more: the fact that she lied to me, or the fact that she just walked into a mosque that had been stolen from its owners in order to say hello to a friend over a beer, before returning to the stolen Palestinian house she lives in, which has an “art gallery” in its yard. But at least they tell Palestinians to stop building mosques, right?

I always hated the “artist colony” of Ein Hod, established in place of Ein Hud, a Palestinian village whose inhabitants were expelled from their homes. A few weeks ago the director of a movie I am producing decided to drive there and film some shots for a movie about the Nakba. Once we finished I pressed the crew to go back to the car. I’ll only come back here when Ein Hod goes back to being Palestinian, I told them.

The village (which is more of a settlement) is located half an hour from Haifa. Its residents were expelled in 1948, and some of them re-established their village just up the mountain — a village the state refused to recognize until 2005. The whole thing represents the ugliness of the Zionist Left’s ideology. Under the guise of “contemporary art,” Ein Hod’s residents live on the ruins of the lives of Palestinian refugees, in beautiful homes that belonged to others...

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